Why Speaking Should Be Every Writer's (Other) Best Friend

Watching Nancy Duarte, author of Resonate and CEO of Duarte Design, Inc., on stage at the recent "21st Century Book Marketing" event, I was reminded, yet again, how valuable good speakers are -- and how important it is for authors to parlay their command of the written word into a similar prowess with the spoken one.

As Nancy shared with the audience, every noticeable spike in her own book sales happens within 24 hours of a speaking engagement. It's a trend I've seen year after year, both in my own sales, and in those of countless other successful authors.

Of course, the mere act of speaking isn't a magic balm for slumping book sales. As Nancy was quick to point out, speaking "is a powerful tool -- if you do it well."

The question is, how do you do it well?

In a word, stories.

"Story is the most powerful way to persuade, whether you're persuading to sell your book or persuading to sell your idea." Great stories, Nancy went on to demonstrate, share these key components that you, as an author/speaker, must be sure to incorporate in your presentations:

It's as simple as 1-2-3. Every story must have three basic parts -- a beginning, middle, and end. However obvious it may seem, Nancy added, "95% of presentations don't have that." Together, these three parts form the skeleton of your story, the fundamental framework required to create a memorable, actionable experience for your audience.

Be the Yoda in the room. As a speaker, your role is that of mentor. It's your job to get your audience to "cross the threshold" toward transformation. To accomplish that, your talk must achieve three things: It should get your audience unstuck, give them a special gift, and/or to provide them with access to a magical tool.

For example, if your magical tool is a new diet plan, you must first convince your audience that this new diet will help them, that it is unlike the many other miserable, ineffective diets they've tried over the years. Once they trust that your diet plan works, they become "unstuck." That is when you must gift them with the knowledge and access needed to achieve the desired transformation, whether it's weight loss or better cholesterol.

Create stark, raving contrast. To get your audience to "cross the threshold" toward transformation, you must repeatedly compare "what is" against "what could be." It's a powerful storytelling technique that's been used by a long and diverse list of gifted communicators, from Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King Jr.

Build resistance. As you compare "what is" against "what could be," it's important to unearth as many objections as you can, including those your audience hasn't thought of yet.

The more objections you incorporate in your presentation, making sure to counter each one with your "what could be" solution, the faster and more willingly your audience will "cross the threshold" toward transformation.

Dare to dwell in possibility. Instead of ending your presentation with a sales pitch, Nancy advises, paint an irresistible picture of what life could be like...if only...

That allows you to end on a high note, and leaves your audience energized, ready to take action.

I hope you'll incorporate Nancy's suggestions into your next presentation. It's the kind of advice that will have your fans tweeting and talking about this great new author they just saw speak.

Happy presenting!

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. For more information, visit Everything You Should Know.